News / Africa

US First Lady Calls Africa's Youth to Action

The U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, chose Soweto's historic Regina Mundi church to inspire Africa's youths.
The U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, chose Soweto's historic Regina Mundi church to inspire Africa's youths.

Multimedia

Nico Colombant

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has delivered a motivational speech to Africa's youth, and in particular to the continent's young women, calling them to action for a better future.

Following a boisterous choir and introductory remarks by South African women leaders, an emotional Michelle Obama, the first African-American first lady in U.S. history, spoke before a packed Regina Mundi church, directly addressing young women.

"You can be the generation that makes the discoveries and builds the industries that will transform our economies," the first lady said.  "You can be the generation that brings opportunity and prosperity to forgotten corners of the world and banishes hunger from this continent forever.  You can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS in our time, the generation that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease."

Links to view or listen to Michelle Obama's speech

The wife of U.S. president Barack Obama, 47, said Africa's youth must help ensure women are no longer treated as second-class citizens, and that they stand up to violence against women in any form and any place.

The speech was part of a U.S.-sponsored forum for young African women leaders.  
Mrs. Obama said in recent history the anti-apartheid struggle against white minority rule in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States had inspired each other, and that the same could be said on a personal level between herself and young African women of today.

The last words of Michelle Obama's speech picked up on her husband's winning 2008 electoral slogan.
The last words of Michelle Obama's speech picked up on her husband's winning 2008 electoral slogan.

The church was a haven during the anti-apartheid struggle, and guests said they believed it was now the place of the most important speech in Mrs. Obama's life.  The first lady ended her comments with a familiar refrain from her husband's victorious 2008 electoral campaign.

"If anyone ever tells you that you should not or you can not then I want you to say with one voice, the voice of a generation,  you tell them, 'Yes, we can!'  What do you say?  'Yes we can!'  What do you say?  'Yes we can!'  Thank you all so much," Obama said.

One of the forum participants, South African radio personality Anele Mdoda, said Michelle Obama's call was loud and clear.

"The fact that she is here, and she is looking at us in the face and she is saying it to us, I think that, and I know that, it is a kick-start for better things for us," Mdoda said.

Groups of high school students were also present. Seventeen-year-old Mashudu Nephawe was one of 20 teenagers attending from the Moletsane high school in Soweto.

"Women like Michelle Obama succeeded in life because they have discipline.  And she thinks out of the box, she thinks for other people," Nephawe noted. "If we can have more women to lead the world I believe the world would be great, it would be more than a better place."

Obama is making the Africa trip with her mother and two daughters, but without her husband.

She met Tuesday with anti-apartheid icon and former South African president Nelson Mandela, and continues her South Africa trip Thursday in the southwestern city of Cape Town and at Robben Island, where Mandela was jailed for 18 years.

Her southern Africa tour focused on youth empowerment and good governance will also take her to Botswana.

You May Like

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid